Many people have heard of, asked me about or asked me to read “Think Like A Monk”, by Jay Shetty. Immediately after I bought it and walked out of the bookstore with it, a friend who knows me quite well informed me it’s not my type of book. And she was right. The wider problem is, I believe, it shouldn’t be anyone’s type of book. We are not making aesthetic judgements here, but rather discussing ideas. Jay Shetty is yet another faceless, noise making cog in the horrible Self-Help Guru economical complex. He’s shallowness is only surpassed by his hypocrisy.
I was intrigued by the title, and perhaps that is, in part, what raised expectations a little bit, since the use of the term “monk” alludes to deep, religious thinking, which I am an incredible supporter of. However, right off the bat, I was put off by the use of his face on the cover of the book. That kind of narcissistic representation and immaturity is not befitting a monk, I thought to myself. And then I started reading and my worst fears were succinctly confirmed. Shetty has been a monk for three years. I have more time logged in World of Warcraft. The great masters of the Eastern Christian monasticism spent their entire lives meditating on the most profound aspects of existence. Three years is not enough to master or understand a single thing. With very few exceptions from the realm of the genius, wisdom is something that you can only garner with the passing of time. It is incredibly conceited to assume you have anything to teach the world while still this young.
So does Jay have anything to teach people? Absolutely not. Exactly like Mark Manson, he has no original idea or system of thought of his own. Jay Shetty may very well be the epitome of fake gurus: a charismatic dilettante, whose only contribution to society is the re-packaging of old tropes and shallow ideas. It would be an embarrassment for any literate adult to be impressed by anything presented in this book. However, Shetty is rather talented at marketing, a requirement for every modern-day “prophet”. Perhaps they are right and nothing but marketing matters anymore in this dystopian nightmare of exacerbated consumerism, but those interested in deep, larger-than-life ideas will be much disappointed by the cheap spirituality presented here.
Besides the shallowness of the cheap cliches, I was also offended by another aspect: Shetty preaches the superiority of spiritual and moral values in his book, podcasts, videos, and contracts, used to squeeze as much financial gain as possible. The entire experience of reading this book felt like him trying to “monetize” on his incredibly brief experience as a monk.
Surprisingly, I would heartily recommend this book to high school teenagers, given the cliches themselves are not as bad as they could have been and, in lack of any other serious reading, they might learn a bit about life and the world. However, for an adult finding any value in this: you don’t need to think like a monk, you need to seriously rethink your life.
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There are only a few self-help books which actually do what they are meant to do. Rest are just filled pages with cortortions of someone else’s ideas.